Tim Kennedy picked up the biggest win of his career and got the last laugh in his rivalry with Michael Bisping at The Ultimate Fighter: Nations finale. Kennedy continued his impressive UFC run with a unanimous decision victory over the perennial contender. While it was far from being a thrill-ride, it did establish Kennedy as a legitimate title threat in the middleweight division.
The story of the five-round main event battle was Kennedy’s grinding style combined with his powerful striking. He really never let Bisping get untracked offensively, and it was reflected on the judges’ scorecards, which read 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45 in Kennedy’s favor. It was an off-night for Bisping, but most of the credit for that has to go to his tenacious opponent.
Kennedy employed solid takedown work in the first, third and fifth rounds, and rocked “The Count” in the fourth round with some solid right hands. Bisping had some good moments in the second round with his striking, but was mostly negated by Kennedy’s strength in the grappling game for a good bulk of the contest.
Kennedy is now a perfect 3-0 in his Octagon career and shapes up as a formidable test for anyone in the division. His relentless pressure and endurance levels remain his calling card, as he improved to 18-4 with the victory. Kennedy has faced fellow contenders Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza dating back to his days in Strikeforce, losing close decisions to both. Rematches against those talented fighters could potentially happen down the road.
For Bisping, it was a disappointing return to action after a serious eye injury that required a pair of surgeries after his technical decision victory at UFC 159 over Alan Belcher. The cocky English fighter is now 24-6 in his career, and saw his hopes of an elusive future title shot take a serious hit with the defeat. Bisping’s stock is on a downward trend, with just two victories in his last five fights.
Both fighters no doubt gained respect for one another after a hard-fought 25 minute battle, and it appeared as though they had buried the hatchet after all the trash-talk leading up to the bout. There was plenty at stake entering this contest, and it was Kennedy who rose to the occasion in Quebec City.